How To Use Microgreens – Harvesting & Storage Guide

Want to start growing microgreens but don’t know the best way to harvest and store them?

These unusual little plants add exciting flavors and stunning color to dishes, as well as loads of nutrients.

So after investing time and money to grow microgreens, it’s essential to know what to do next, since these delicate plants have a very short shelf life.

In this guide, I tell you when to begin harvesting microgreens, the steps to harvest and store microgreens properly, and answer questions growers frequently ask about this part of the process so when your first batch of greens is ready, that you are too!

When To Harvest Microgreens

In general, a batch of microgreens is ready for harvest just after the true leaves develop. These leaves are not the cotyledons (seed leaves), but the second set that forms when the plant is a few inches tall.

This second set of leaves are tender and flavorful and also “fill in” the look of your crop which works as a visual sign that your batch is ready for harvest.

You will need to know the proper time to harvest, since different plant varieties grow at different speeds.

Here are some common microgreen crops and the average time you can expect it to take from planting to harvest:

  • Broccoli – 10 days
  • Pea – 12 days
  • Radish – 6 days
  • Arugula – 10 days
  • Mustard – 6 days
  • Sunflower – 13 days

Snow pea microgreens grow tendrils that improve the look and taste of your microgreen crop so don’t be afraid to let this variety grow an extra day or two to increase the tendril length in your growing medium.

How To Harvest Microgreens

1. Prepare

Have an area set up with all your supplies to cut, wash, and package your microgreens. You want to avoid excessive transporting and handling of the plants that could cause bruising.

2. Cut the shoots

Cut the microgreen stems just above the surface of the soil. Do this with a sharp pair of scissors or a knife with ceramic blades.

Ceramic is non-toxic and chemically inert to the microgreens so the cut ends won’t brown as fast as they would when using a metal instrument.

3. Wash

Gently place your cut microgreens into a large tub of cool water to remove any dirt and seed hulls from the plants. Do not roughly stir or dunk them.

Scoop the microgreens from the water and lay them on paper towels or put them into a salad spinner to remove excess moisture.

Do not pat down the greens from the top as this will crush the plants.

After the majority of moisture is gone, spread the microgreens onto a tray. Set the tray in front of a fan for one or two five-minute sessions to help dry the plants thoroughly — this extra step aids in extending shelf life.

Immediately after this step, set the microgreens into a container large enough to keep them from being crushed and get ready to store them.

How To Store Microgreens

Here are the steps to properly store microgreens to extend shelf life.

1. Package

Place your microgreens loosely in a glass bowl with no lid or a clam-shell style plastic container that provides a bit of air-flow. Cover the glass bowl with a damp paper towel as long as the towel is not touching the greens. If you see condensation forming inside either container, place a dry paper towel underneath the microgreens.

Refrain from using resealable plastic bags, as they trap too much moisture and block air, which leads to slimy microgreens.

2. Refrigerate

Refrigerate clean microgreens as soon as possible. Place the container in the darkest location inside the refrigerator, away from the door since exposure to light and temperature fluctuations speed up spoilage.

Keep the temperature inside the fridge at 40-degrees Farehenheit (4-degrees Celcius) for best results.

After harvesting microgreens, expect them to remain edible between 7-14 days if you follow these steps.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do Microgreens Regrow After Cutting?

You can regrow many varieties of microgreens, including:

  • Snow peas
  • Green peas
  • Speckled peas
  • Fava beans

You can regrow these crops several times, as long as you’re careful where you cut the stem when harvesting microgreens.

Each plant needs to retain a leaf to keep growing, which means you need to cut each stem just above the lowest leaf. This process is quite time-consuming.

Regrowth takes longer than the original batch of microgreens. Due to the hassle of cutting, and the extra time for regrowth, most people start new crops from seed every time.

Should You Wash Microgreens?

Microgreens are a vegetable and need washing to remove dirt, mold spores, bacteria, and seed hulls.

While microgreens are much “cleaner” than sprouts due to the way they grow, it still isn’t wise to eat raw, unwashed microgreens.

You could get Salmonella or other common illnesses associated with unclean produce.

A light rinse in clean water is better than no wash at all since the water cools the microgreens down, which slows bacterial growth and extends the shelf life.

SEE ALSO: Sprouts vs Microgreens

Do Microgreens Need To Be Refrigerated?

There is no doubt that fresh-cut microgreens taste the best, but you should never store the extras anywhere but in the refrigerator.

The cold temperature and dark environment reduce the chance the microgreens grow mold, bacteria, or fungus since they can’t multiply very fast under these conditions.

In Summary

Getting the longest shelf life out of your microgreens starts with good harvesting and storage techniques. The more experience you have with different varieties, the better your results will be.

I hope this guide on how to use microgreens is helpful, so you can successfully harvest, store, and most importantly enjoy your microgreen crops!

About Justin Micheal

Justin has always loved gardening and caring for the outdoor spaces in his grandmother's backyard. He believes everyone can enjoy the space available to them, no matter how big or small. On Backyard Digs, he shares everything he's learned about growing a successful garden and maintaining and improving the landscape of a backyard.